Improving safety standards at recycling sites
Resource recovery facilities across Victoria are being audited following the release of Resource Recovery Facilities Audit Taskforce’s interim report, commissioned by the Andrews Labor Government to protect the community.
The taskforce was set up in the aftermath of the SKM Recycling plant fire in Coolaroo, targeting key recycling sites that require extra management measures to ensure community safety.
Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio says, “The taskforce is auditing recycling facilities across the state to identify and prioritise sites that require action to better protect the community.”
The interim report found that while no site was as high a fire risk as Coolaroo, the sector needs to be better prepared and equipped to manage the risk of fire.
“This is about improving safety measures and helping to prevent a fire from happening in the first place,” D’Ambrosio says.
Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino says, “The taskforce has set out a range of recommendations to reduce the risk of damaging fires and lift standards to better protect locals and the safety of our first responders.”
To date, the taskforce has conducted 88 inspections of 73 sites and issued 37 statutory notices. The Labor Government will consider each recommendation made by the taskforce, with inspections to continue until June 2018.
“The Government will carefully consider all of the recommendations in the report and respond in due course,” D’ambrosio says.
To assist the taskforce, the Labor Government has strengthened the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) by establishing an interim Waste Management Policy to improve safety standards at waste and resource recovery facilities.
This is in addition to investing $162.5 million to reform the EPA and passing the Environment Protection Bill 2017 in October this year – the first of two Bills to overhaul the independent regulator.
To help industry comply with the policy, the taskforce has developed guidelines that provide detailed information for resource recovery facility operators on how best to prevent and reduce the impact of fires.
A summary of the taskforce’s interim report can be found at epa.vic.gov.au.